Parents have long known, and research confirms, that children cannot learn on empty stomachs. For some children, a nutritious school lunch may be the only meal they receive during the day. Minnesota provides free school meals to only very low-income children, requiring thousands of low-income Minnesota children to pay a reduced price for school meals. A growing number of these children cannot afford to pay, and they’re being turned away from the school lunch counter.
That’s why Senator Franken introduced the Expand School Meals Act, which would eliminate the reduced-price category and ensure that more than 54,000 Minnesota students get the meals they need. Hungry children perform worse on achievement tests, have trouble concentrating, and are more likely to act out in school. Securing access to nutritious meals for low-income children is not only a way to reduce child hunger but also an important strategy for narrowing the achievement gap.